the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘contemporary fiction

The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks

published in 1984

where I got it: purchased used

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You’ve read some Iain M. Banks then?  Some Culture novels? The “.M” means you’re reading his science fiction.  Without that middle initial, you’re holding a contemporary fiction novel in your hands.

 

The Wasp Factory may not be science fiction (or anything even approaching a Culture novel), but oh is it so very Iain Banks.  He throws you in the deep end on page one, leaves you on your own to figure out the local slang terms, populates the book with characters who are as confident in their actions as they are secretive about their motives, and then flips everything inside out for the climactic reveal.  Yup, this is definitely a Banks novel!

 

At less than two hundred pages,  you’d think this book would be a fast read. And it is, sort of. It’s easy to read, the vocabulary isn’t difficult, and I have no complaints on the pacing.  But it is not an easy book to read. The Wasp Factory is solid violence, nastiness, sociopathic tendencies, animal abuse, and cold blooded murder.

 

This is a novel in which a child commits premeditated murder three times before the age of eleven, and doesn’t feel the slightest remorse.

 

Oh, you’re thinking grimark? I think Frank Cauldhame could give even Jorg a run for his money.  That is not a compliment. If A Clockwork Orange and Lord of the Flies had an ultraviolent psychopathic younger brother they didn’t want anyone to know about, The Wasp Factory is that brother.

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Yesterday I posted a review of Anthony Burgess’s The Wanting Seed. Let’s learn a little more about this fascinating man.

Anthony Burgess (1917-1993, birth name John Burgess Wilson) was an English literature teacher throughout the 1940s, and worked for the British Colonial Service in the 1950’s, travelling to Malaysia and Brunei.   Although gainfully employed during his travels, he often wrote short novels that were openly quite critical of the regimes he was living under. Some books never saw publication due to libel suits.

This multitalented author, linguist, critic, satirist and musician,  is considered one of Britain’s greatest contemporary writers.

In the United States, we mostly know Anthony Burgess because of the movie A Clockwork Orange. A cult classic, if you’ve seen the movie, I highly recommend the book. It’s much easier to swallow than the movie, and is an amazing read. Famous for his biting satire of contemporary society, Burgess was always more proud of his works of philosophical literature, literary criticism, and his music. Talented in linguistics as well, Burgess was fluent in French and German at a young age, and during his time overseas he taught himself Malay, and Farsi. You can see his love for languages while experiences the strange slang in A Clockwork Orange.
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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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